Israel Travel Guide - The Best Places to Visit in Israel
Due to Israel’s 70 year history of conflict, terrorism is always a threat. However, this is primarily concentrated in certain areas and most locations are relatively safe by American standards.
Learning to bargain is essential in Israel. It is a very shoppable country, and prices are often negotiable. Also be aware that Jewish holidays (Shabbat) cause many shops and restaurants to close.
The Dead Sea
Located in the Middle East, near Jerusalem, this sea is the lowest exposed place on Earth. It is too salty for aquatic life to survive, but it’s a remarkable place to visit.
The evaporating salts leave stunning formations along the shore, like small spheres of salt pebbles, large mushroom-like structures and tall salt chimneys. The Dead Sea is dotted with Israeli hotel resorts, where tourists float in the water and lather its mineral-rich mud on their skin.
But the sea may be disappearing before our eyes. It needs an infusion of 160 billion gallons of freshwater a year to maintain its current size, and it’s only getting about 10 percent of that. Overpumping and mineral extraction have caused the lake to recede at a rate of three feet a year, and Friends of the Earth says it may not be able to recover. Fortunately, a rain-fed aquifer supplies some of the water used by hotels and a handful of private pools.
The Golan Heights
During the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria and annexed it in 1981. It’s an important military site, and the rocky plateau—which overlooks Israel’s industrial heartland—is strategically significant in the face of a hostile neighbour.
But the Jewish connection to the region dates back much farther, as the area was known in Biblical times. It’s a region of many hills and peaks, and the word “Golan” probably derives from the city of Golan in Bashan mentioned in Deuteronomy and Joshua (Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 20:8).
Despite Netanyahu’s uncompromising position on the Golan, he has pursued back channel diplomacy with Syria in hopes of reviving peace talks. The move will bolster his re-election chances but may also spur international opposition. The Golan is home to a number of hotels, restaurants, and bed-and-breakfast facilities, as well as 13 nature reserves and three Society for the Protection of Nature field schools. It is also the site of Israel’s only ski resort, Mount Hermon.
Jerusalem is the most sacred city for Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is also known as the “Holy City.” It was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Judah under kings David and Solomon. It is referred to in the Book of Revelation as the “New Jerusalem” and represents a heavenly city that will be established at the end of time.
It is also a holy site for Christians as it is where Jesus was crucified and buried. Thousands of Christian pilgrims visit the city each year to complete their spiritual journey and connect with Jesus.
The city of Jerusalem has many orthodox neighborhoods and religious sites, so modest clothing is recommended. Long pants or skirts are required and shirts with sleeves that go below the elbow are preferred. A scarf is also helpful in a colder climate. It is important to be aware that the Jewish Sabbath (Friday sundown through Saturday) is observed and most restaurants and other places close down.
Tel Aviv is a fun, international city with a perfect beach/city mix. This UNESCO World Heritage site has amazing architecture, street art, and nightlife. It's a great home base for day trips all over Israel.
Spring and fall are the best times for a visit to Tel Aviv, as it's not too hot or too expensive. In the summer, tourists swarm here to get a tan and enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer.
The area around Rothschild Boulevard is the heart of old Tel Aviv and has been dubbed the White City. It's a stunning collection of Bauhaus, and eclectic styled buildings. Join a walking tour to learn about the history and architecture of this unique area.
You'll also find the beautiful promenade is popular with joggers and walkers, as well as being wheelchair friendly. Make sure you pack comfortable runners, and don't forget a sunhat and sunglasses. Don't be alarmed if you see armed soldiers on the streets; it's normal for a country in turmoil to have security measures like these.